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Skills shortage threatens to stunt business growth

Update: February, 06/2013 - 13:27

HCM CITY — Businesses around the world are reporting a skills shortage epidemic that is weighing on growth prospects, according to the latest Grant Thornton International Business Report.

The findings in the report were based on a survey conducted between August and December 2012 of about 6,400 chief executive officers and other senior executives from all industries.

Over one in four businesses surveyed said they expected their 2013 expansion plans to suffer as a result of skills shortages, with the rate rising to more than one in three in the so-called BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

Almost four in ten businesses around the world were struggling to recruit the right people, with 64 per cent citing a lack of technical skills as the primary problem, the survey found.

“The concern is that a lack of talent will dampen business productivity, ultimately threatening future growth and profitability,” the report said.

“With unemployment running so high in many mature economies, it is somewhat ironic that business leaders are concerned by a lack of skills,” commented Grant Thornton International’s Paul Raleigh.

“In the short-term they will need to plug these skills gaps with people from outside the organisation as best they can,” he added.

“But in the longer-term they need to invest in their internal training programmes to mould the people that will help them deliver on strategy, innovate and ultimately grow,” he noted.

A lack of experience (56 per cent) or qualifications (54 per cent) were also mentioned, and one in five business leaders complained of restrictions on immigration as an obstacle to recruiting talent.

In Viet Nam, the lack of work experience was cited by 84 per cent of survey respondents, while 70 per cent complained of a lack of appropriate qualifications and 61 per cent noted a surprisingly low quantity of applicants for skilled positions.

A shortage of technical skills was nearly as much an issue in developed as emerging economies, the report said, with 61 per cent of businesses surveyed in the BRIC countries identifying it as a major problem, compared to 65 per cent of companies in the G7 developed nations and 57 per cent in the developing economies of the Asia-Pacific region. — VNS

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